Survey: Marketers Toss Out Valuable Location Data

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The more applications a company uses, the more data gets generated. But not all of that data is put to use, and an incredible amount gets tossed out into the ether because it provides little to no value to brand marketers.

What if that wasn’t the case? What if seemingly inconsequential data—and location data, in particular—could actually be re-harnessed and used to provide additional revenue-generating opportunities for brands?

That’s the concept behind a new report out from the global geolocation data and services provider Digital Element, examining digital data exhaust and the opportunities companies are missing when they throw away valuable information.

Data exhaust is a relatively new term that describes the data that companies discard because it seems to provide little value. Researchers from Digital Element found that 30% of digital marketers don’t know the percentage of data their companies throw away, but 60% believe using an extra quarter of the data they currently discard would result in increased revenue.

Nearly 40% of marketers in the survey—conduced in partnership with the Location-Based Marketing Association—said they are “very” concerned with data exhaust, and another 29% said they are “somewhat” concerned.

Digital Element Executive Vice President Rob Friedman says the majority of businesses don’t realize the value of the data they have in front of them, particularly when it comes to location and IP addresses.

“As we continue to onboard new clients and data partners, we have noticed a recurrent theme: Companies were not leveraging data they had at hand because they simply didn’t realize they could extract value―or revenue―from that data,” he explains.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible for companies to stay on top of everything that can be extracted from every piece of data. That’s an important part of the puzzle when it comes to examining data exhaust. In this era of big data, there is simply too much data available. Friedman says most companies aren’t aware of certain attributes that can be extracted from the data they already have at their disposal. Those companies could be paying to generate additional data, when the information they need is already sitting right in front of them.

This fits with Digital Element’s survey results, which found that although nearly 40% of marketers believe they are fully leveraging their IP data, many more (61%) are failing to utilize all the different data points available to them.

Companies might have IP addresses at hand, but have no realization that there is valuable geotextual data that can be gleaned from those IP addresses, such as location to a postcode worldwide, point-of-interest data, mobile carrier data, or proxy data, which could help marketers ensure they’re meaningfully engaging with human audiences. If they put that IP address data to work, companies could tell where users are actually—not just in terms of location, but also points-of-interest.

Missed opportunities for revenue are the most obvious byproduct of data exhaust, but Friedman says the issues extend beyond that. Marketers are making it harder to succeed when they don’t utilize all of the information they have available to ensure the success of their campaigns.

“The repercussions are that some of the data mentioned above such as IP-based data can be used to help reach customers at every stage of the consumer journey, across devices. When not leveraged, this can lead to revenue losses,” Friedman says. “Companies not utilizing all the valuable data on hand are at a competitive disadvantage to those businesses that are getting the most out of their data to engage customers.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.